MD102 vs UpgradedFT101A/MD100

I recently a/b'd Magnum Dynalab MD102 ($2,600) versus an upgraded FT101A to MD100 tuner ($1,500) and found the upgraded unit better sounding than the newer MD102. My notes include: I tested by connecting my antennae via a split y coax adapter to each unit, then used the same ICs to connect each stereo pair between my pre-amp and each tuner (pre-amp onnections are tuner and aux and tuner and cd). I then turned on tuner and did direct instant and long term tests between the two by changing the preamp switch via remote between the two sources tuned to the stations. I left all units powered on at least 24 hrs overnight for warm up with music running through them. I swapped out ics between the two and preamp inputs as well to account for any differences there; none were detected. For reference, my preamp is a CJ premier 16ls (just bought it), amp is a CJ MF200, and ICs are both new Cardas Golden Ref 1 meter. Also, the CJPremier16ls source specs indicate 100% same impedance, dynamics, etc. for inputs I was using.

Music samples include some popular vocal, classical and jazz music stations.

The results are:

1. The MD102 is noticeably quieter background on some stations. In my case, it occurred on just 2 or 3 stations better. On the majority of stations having good reception, the quietness difference was not discernable.

2. The MD102 does retrieve some stations better. In my case, it was 2 additional stations that I can get with it. Also, it appears to retrieve some stations more accurately: while my previous integrated tuner and the MD101 upgrade get a station at 96.5, the MD 102 did not get this station but got it at 95.9. The MD 102 was correct, the station call numbers are 95.9. However, the 95.9 listening on the MD102 was staticky and in mono only compared to stereo and more quiet listening on the others getting it a 96.5
reading. So the others produced a net result much more enjoyable on this station even if there were using the multipath (??) effect.

3. The FT101A upgraded unit blows away this MD102 unit in 3 dimensional soundstage, openness, clarity and tone every time. Switching between MD102 to the upgrade unit went from airy 3d soundstage to a dead 2d soundstage music every time. While the MD102 seemed to have more bass, it was overall a very disappointing "colored" sound that consumed the mids and highs, like not enough treble?? Also, the bass sound of the 102 completely muddied the rest of the mid and highs. For instance, every time I switched from the upgrade unit to the MD102, the drum kicks, horns, the "tatish, tatish" sound of the drummer, violins etc of mids just disappeared where I had to try and strain to even hear them against the background music. It was like night and

My question IS WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Is it likly the MD102 unit I got was a defective one, or maybe setup for European fm modulation as opposed to US? The only thing different on the MD100 upgrade was that it had kimbar cable wire upgrade and the MD102 was a stock unit.

Sorry for the long question but I'd appreciate this group's opinions on what is going on here? Thanks. Lewdis
You may find this an interesting read:
Gordus, thanks for the link.
10/13/04 update: Talking with manufacturer suggests noticeable difference between the optional kimber cable silver wire installed in the lower end unit versus standard copper in the md102. They suggest this causes some noticeable equalization over certain ranges that may sound alot cleaner, brighter etc to some folks, and that's why it's offered. Also, I've left the MD102 on for the last week with music through it and it "seems" to be sounding better and better, perhaps getting broken in as suggested? In some ways it seems more musical now overall though not as "bright" as noted before as kimber cabled md100 upgrade.
10/21/04 Update:
I caved in and upraded my tuner from the MD102 and MD100 to the MD106T - tube one with Kimber Cable silver wire. UNBELIEVABLE - it's the sound I was hoping for. I think the combination of the KKsilver accentuating the midrange with the tubes and higher build of the MD 106T is what made the difference (of course it is another $1,500 more for it than the MD102). I know the difference I heard before between the 102 and 100 was the kimber cable silver in the 100. But the 106T blows both of them away. I think I'll stay with this one for awhile. I want to thank Jim Richards at Magnum Dynalab for working through this with me, he is a super guy, spent a lot of time on the phone and emails, very patient and accomodating and willing to refund any of my purchases/upgrades if I was unsatisfied. I am very satisified with the sound of the MD106T and can't say enough about the positive customer focus shown by the MD folks.
Have you upgraded the Kef 104.2 ? It was my dream speaker in the mid-eighties, but truly is the weakest link in your system today.
Hammy - I haven't yet but want to. What speaker lines and models can you recommend to take it the the next level worthy of my CJ sources? I know I looked at some full planar speakers (forget the models and prices) in the early 90s but the models I looked at didn't match the dynamics of the Kef's even. Please suggest some models and prices ranges that took you to tne next level you are at today? What do I need to spend? My budget may allow 4-6 k max, perhaps I can find a good deal on used 8-12 k speakers? Still, my $ 1000 used Meridian 508.20 suggests to me that you don't necessarily have to spend 4-6K to get near nirvana...Overall I do like the "british" speaker sound , like kefs and b&w's...Thanks..lew
I hope you get a chance to Audition Silverline at a show, or at a 'gon members house. Sonata is reallt musical, like the KEFs. I've heard the Sonata I, I own the two, and the three is supposedly orgasmic. I don't want to hear it! My classical loving wife wrote a 6500 check for them, but since the III came out it's a bargain now.